The Happening Mini-Review

There’s an event happening. People stop dead in their steps and start killing themselves. It starts in the big cities and spreads like a pandemic. All the while, science teacher Elliot and his girlfriend tries to get away from what in the beginning seemed like a bioterrorist attack.

This is M. Night Shyamalans sixth film since his breakthrough, The Sixth Sense. Unsurprisingly, The Happening is also a mystery twist ending film.

Shyamalan clearly knows his suspense. The music, the camera angles, the clever playing on common fears works very well. Indie movie makers should take note, in fact, because the way the story is told, we wouldn’t have cared if it was all recorded on the field behind your grandmas house one summers day. I’ll bet most of the budget was spent on the actors. Speaking of which, Zooey Deschanel does very little beside being a pretty face. Her acting is slightly reminiscent of stalks of corn blowing in the wind; but perhaps that was the directors intention.

Ultimately, making this type of movie is risky. Unless there’s an emotional payoff in the end, it doesn’t matter how good the preceding film was. Like a good detective story, you start with the end and work your way from there. How Shyamalan approached this one I have no idea, but something went wrong. Perhaps he just forgot a good mindfuck. In any case, it just wasn’t happening for me.